The ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tion that gets up to 120,000 on­line hits per post

As the world moves more and more to­wards on­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Macra makes

Irish Examiner - Farming - - COVER STORY - Eoin Mccarthy

Macra na Feirme, the Ir­ish ru­ral youth or­gan­i­sa­tion, with al­most 11,000 likes on Face­book, can now claim to be an on­line in­flu­encer, thanks to their suc­cess­ful use of so­cial me­dia.

This is ev­i­dent from Macra dou­bling their num­ber of fol­low­ers on Face­book and Twit­ter ac­counts since 2015. Fig­ures ob­tained by the Ir­ish Ex­am­iner in­di­cate that Macra na Feirme can get up to 120,000 on­line hits for some of their on­line posts, when they have streamed events on their Face­book page. That’s about how many peo­ple Pope Fran­cis spoke to at the open air Mass in the Phoenix Park — and rep­re­sents an im­pres­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion reach for an Ir­ish ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tion, in a world mov­ing more and more to­wards on­line com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Macra’s on­line ef­forts are recog­nised with a win in the best tar­geted cam­paign cat­e­gory in the re­cently an­nounced 2018 Guild of Agri­cul­tural Jour­nal­ists Awards, for Macra PR Man­ager Joe Cof­fey for the Macra Farm Safety Cam­paign which high­lighted the dan­gers of work­ing on the land and pro­moted safe­guards to ad­dress this vi­tal is­sue.

Other streamed Macra events at­tract­ing big au­di­ences in­clude ‘Trac­tor Karaoke’ at the Na­tional Plough­ing Cham­pi­onships, and Mar­ket Sus­tain­abil­ity for Young Farm­ers in a Post-brexit Ire­land and En­joy­ing a Healthy Work-life Bal­ance in Agri­cul­ture panel dis­cus­sions at their re­cent an­nual con­fer­ence.

Trac­tor Karaoke

Macra’s stand was a hive of ac­tiv­ity at the Plough­ing last Septem­ber, with the pri­mary at­trac­tion be­ing ‘Trac­tor Karaoke. If it works for TV host James Cor­den on the streets of Los An­ge­les, there is no rea­son it won’t work for Macra in the fields of Co Of­faly.

Cor­den’s ‘Car­pool Karaoke’ fea­tures fa­mous mu­si­cians singing along to their songs with him while he drives around the streets of Los An­ge­les, and has in­cluded stars such as Mariah Carey, Ar­i­ana Grande, Katy Perry, the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers, Paul Mccart­ney and, re­cently, Bar­bra Streisand.

In Trac­tor Karaoke last Septhei tem­ber, pop­u­lar Co Mon­aghan singer-song­writer Marty Mone pro­vided us with a ren­di­tion of his ‘Hit The Diff’, with en­thu­si­as­tic help from Macra Train­ing and De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer Jen­nifer Arthur at the Plough­ing.

Other notable 2018 Trac­tor Karaoke per­for­mances in­cluded mem­bers of Kerry Macra with a charm­ing ver­sion of ‘Baby Shark’, while North-west Vice Pres­i­dent Sharon Cor­co­ran gave an im­pres­sive ren­di­tion of Abba’s ‘Mamma Mia’.

It was Brian Mccarthy of Bal­li­nascarthy Macra in West Cork who sug­gested ‘Trac­tor Karaoke’ to Na­tional Pres­i­dent James Healy as an ac­tiv­ity for the Macra stand at the Plough­ing last year.

His idea was sub­se­quently dis­cussed among Macra lead­ers and staff.

“We thought it might get a bit of at­ten­tion, but cer­tainly didn’t think it would go down any­where nearly as pos­i­tively as it has,” said Na­tional Pres­i­dent James Healy.

“I think it has gained some fan­tas­tic pub­lic­ity for us, and cre­ates a very pos­i­tive and lively vibe around the Plough­ing tent for the three days.” Speak­ing to the Ir­ish Ex­am­iner at the Macra na Feirme Na­tional Con­fer­ence, PR Man­ager Joe Cof­fey ex­plained how tar­geted so­cial me­dia cam­paigns have in­creased the num­ber of fol­low­ers on their so­cial me­dia plat­forms. “From a so­cial me­dia per­spec­tive, some of the most pop­u­lar videos you are talk­ing about got over 100,000 views, for one of them in par­tic­u­lar, and sev­eral thou­sand views for other videos.

“Our Face­book fol­low­ers gained a sig­nif­i­cant amount dur­ing that pe­riod [the Plough­ing].

“We have ran a few cam­paigns over the last few years. We had a farm safety cam­paign two years ago, that would have given us a fair boost in terms of our so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers and then we had this [Trac­tor Karaoke] which also gave us a sig­nif­i­cant boost.

“In the last 30 months, we have dou­bled the num­ber of our Face­book fol­low­ers. We were at about 5,000, and now we are up to al­most 11,000 fol­low­ers.”

Feed­back re­gard­ing ‘Trac­tor Karaoke’ has been pos­i­tive from Macra mem­bers, who have sug­gested other novel ac­tiv­i­ties for the Macra stand at the Plough­ing Cham­pi­onships in the fu­ture.

“I think in gen­eral, pos­i­tive. No­body has said any­thing neg­a­tive to me. Lots of peo­ple have thrown new ideas at us with dif­fer­ent twists, but I think, all very pos­i­tive, peo­ple look­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to do it and ask­ing are we do­ing it next year?

And Macra pres­i­dent James Healy said, “I think it is cer­tainly some­thing that could be built on, and cer­tainly some­thing to be con­tin­ued”.

Farm safety

Their Face­book page ini­tia­tive to high­light the im­por­tance of farm safety two years ago made head­lines at the time. On De­cem­ber 22, 2016, pri­vate mes­sages were posted on their Face­book page, thereby mak­ing it ap­pear that ac­count had been hacked. These mes­sages told the tale of a dra­matic love tri­an­gle which in­cluded a Macra dance, bales of hay, a Nathan Carter CD, and a “nice shirt”. So­cial me­dia be­came alive to the shenani­gans of what was be­ing posted on their Face­book page as the evening pro­gressed.

This in turn led to ar­ti­cles on­line with the fol­low­ing head­lines: “Some­one has taken over the Macra na Feirme Face­book page tonight, and it’s gas.” “Some­one has taken over the Macra Face­book page. and pub­lished an Ir­ish love story for the ages.”

The fol­low­ing day, on De­cem­ber 23, 2016, PR man­ager Joe Cof­fey clar­i­fied ev­eryex­tremely

“We thought it might get a bit of at­ten­tion, but cer­tainly didn’t think it would go down any­where nearly as pos­i­tively as it has. I think it has gained some fan­tas­tic pub­lic­ity for us, and cre­ates a very pos­i­tive and ” lively vibe around the Plough­ing tent

Pic­ture Dy­lan Vaughan

From left, Ciara Leahy, Chair, Guild of Agri­cul­tural Jour­nal­ists; Der­rie Dil­lon, De­nis Dug­gan, Brigid Quigley, Joe Cof­fey, James Healy, all Macra na Feirme; and Zoe Ka­vanagh, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, NDC, and chair of the judg­ing panel, at the 2018 Guild of Agri­cul­tural Jour­nal­ism Award pre­sen­ta­tion in the Tar­geted Com­mu­ni­ca­tions cat­e­gory to Joe Cof­fey, Macra.

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